Earlier today, Allahpundit looked at the scenario where Mueller has been setting up a Grand Jury situation where he could engineer all manner of mischief since they are allowed to “report on their findings even absent an indictment.” More than a few observers have been wondering if this entire Grand Jury excursion is turning into something of a fishing expedition and whether or not it might wind up being a huge bag of feed for the media circus even if nothing of substance comes of it.
That seems to be on the minds of the folks at the Attorney General’s office. Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein seemed to be throwing some cold water on those expectations today. In an interview with Chris Wallace he pretty much laid down the law and said that if Mueller was heading off into uncharted waters outside the realm of the Russia, Russia, Russia tales he was asked to investigate, he’d need to come back to the Justice Department and check in with them first. (Washington Examiner)
If special counsel Robert Mueller finds any crime outside the scope of the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, then he’ll have to seek permission, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Sunday.
“Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation, and so no, it’s not a fishing expedition,” he told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
Rosenstein appointed Mueller to oversee the federal Russia probe, which includes a search for possible collusion with the Trump campaign, back in May after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case, Rosenstein ultimately was given the power to hire, and fire if he has good reason, Mueller.
It has been reported that Mueller’s investigation has expanded to look at the finances of Trump and his associates, giving rise to concerns that Mueller could make it the focus of the probe. Rosenstein seemed to dismiss this issue.
Here’s part of the video from that. Decide for yourself what Rosenstein is actually saying here.
I think this boils down to a case of balancing technicalities against public perception. In more “normal” times, it would be expected that a special investigation such as this would be restricted to the subject matter at hand. In light of that, if Sessions or Rosenstein called a meeting with Mueller and reminded him to keep his nets in the pond he was assigned, not much more would come of it. But we’ve lived to see interesting times where most of the traditional rules don’t apply. If Mueller gets “pulled” off of some line of investigation not directly related to the Russiagate activities, every Democrat on the Hill and all of their media allies will immediately be talking about yet another round of “obstruction of justice” and Maxine Waters will have to cancel everything on her calendar for another round of CNN and MSNBC appearances to once again call for Trump’s impeachment.
The actual findings of the investigation in this wild ride may not wind up being what matters. Even if no charges can be filed, this could turn out to be a complete treasure trove for Trump’s opponents. And if the investigation is steered away from any non-Russia material and back to the original charter, it’s a cover-up in the minds of those who want to find one. Ditto if Mueller winds up being fired. It’s pretty much a win-win for the Democrats at this point, so kudos to them for setting the trap this well.
Original title edited because after nearly sixty years the author still gets “reigning / reining” wrong too often.